“All along, the Herman Cain campaign — which Politico called ‘one of the most hapless and bumbling operations in modern presidential politics’ — has been riveting but improbable,” Edward Wasserman, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., wrote Sunday in the Miami Herald.
“Yet whatever the ex-restaurant executive’s other misdeeds and missteps, Cain’s bid seems finally to have crumbled because of extensive coverage of a woman’s allegations that she had a 13-year extramarital romance with him.
“Some Cain supporters have cried foul: ‘Private, alleged consensual conduct between adults,’ said his lawyer, Lin Wood, is ‘not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public.’ That’s a point worth examining. Why isn’t this private? How much should the news media care about a past amorous liaison? As Brad Hirschfield asked in his Washington Post column, ‘Does it matter if Herman Cain had an affair?’
Wasserman concluded: “. . . I fear the lesson of the Cain campaign is to elevate infidelity as an electoral issue and move coverage a big step farther from civic purpose and closer to celebrity-mad tabloid TV.”
Cain pointed a finger at the news media. “With his wife Gloria standing behind him and cheering him on, Cain said the accusations about his infidelity and harassment are being ‘spinned in the media,’ and ‘that spin hurts,’ ” Faiz Shakir wrote Saturday on thinkprogress.org after Cain’s news conference announcing the suspension of his campaign.
S.E. Cupp, columnist at the Daily News in New York, senior writer at the Daily Caller, and a political commentator, was one of many who weren’t buying it.
“He can’t blame the media for his fumbles on foreign policy, or his inability to explain his own position on abortion. Nor can he blame Democrats or his alleged victims for his failure to sell his 9-9-9 plan as the solution to all of our ills,” she wrote on cnn.com.
Don Lemon, anchoring Sunday on CNN, said, “Long story short — maybe it’s time for politicians who get caught in unflattering situations or who might have a bit of trouble with the truth to take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming the media.”